Money Music Monday

Money Music Monday #10

 

 

The weekends always hold such promise from one side and such regret from another. I work every Saturday without fail, and then Binge eat and relax all day on Sunday as much as possible.

Even being so productive it just feels like never enough time.

My version Work Hard Play Hard I guess.

December 2016 Tracking

December 2016 Tracking Report

I wanted to put together a Net Worth Tracking report but did not really know the best process or layout. Then I remembered that there is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path, so I was excited to start with the most basic layout possible. It will be great to see how these reports evolve along with (hopefully) my financial knowledge.

 

December was an interesting month in a lot of ways. I have only been tracking my financials for a few short months as I got pushed into fiscal overdrive mode by credit card debt in attached to a company education reimbursement. I just do not do well with any debt, and it all just seemed to spiral and caused me to feel very hectic. Even though it was good debt for education that was getting reimbursed tax free, I just did not have a solid enough picture of my finances that it just caused undue stress. In December there was the personal victory of finally getting the reimbursement and clearing the debt on the final day of the year, but also the failure of one of the most abysmal months at work commission wise. I was not sure I wanted this to be my first month, but I thought that it would be a fun view into a spendy New York City month to compare to No Spend January 17 next!

 

Transactions

 

Bills – $5,007

Starting off with the painful stuff first. Finally was able to pay off the course I had on my credit card for the past three months as my reimbursement came through. This gets my debt back down to a level that I can understand and more easily track without getting stuck in the weeds.

 

Birthday – $395

I celebrated my 28th birthday this past month and it was a blast. It was pretty lavish as my girlfriend got us a helicopter tour of NYC that had some hidden fees and eating at the best vegan place in town with my family is always a good way to celebrate. I generally never celebrate my birthday so this is an acceptable splurge. If you get the chance – Helicopter NYC – you won’t regret it.

 

Eating Out: $285

Any food not cooked at home goes here. My company actually covers a few breakfast staples and lunches twice a week. I do spend and eat out the rest of the time because I feel ahead. This is one budget that needs to be slashed in the coming year. I love NYC food, but this is of the same boring meals each day. Not bringing me optimal happiness so it must go.

 

Groceries – $158

I never fault myself a large grocery bill because it’s the cheapest route you can go. I had a lot left over from the previous month and we ate with our families for most of the holiday week, so this will likely go up next year. I would rather overspend on groceries any day as the alternative is ordering overpriced delivery. This is a category I hope to increase in the coming year as it would make other categories like snacks and eating out shrink!

 

Gifts – $1,100

The bane of my year. I had 5 weddings this year and had to travel to most of them. Between accommodations, gifts, clothes, peripheral events- I likely spent $6-7,000 on weddings this past year. I have five more weddings this year and I expect to gal my way through them as cheaply as possible. Christmas was somewhat light this year as I manage to convince more and more of my family to do no gifts. No gifts still was roughly ten gifts and it caused me no end of stress. I am going to aim to get my presents online by the final week of November this upcoming year to spare myself.

 

Health – $470

Another oversized category for this month- I had a long delayed doctors appointment to get my foot fixed. I have some of the flattest feet you have ever seen, and this was only recently fixed with a pair of $350 Orthotic custom insoles. The difference is so night and day I would have paid triple to have been smart enough to do it even a few months earlier. Prior to these insoles I was hobbling around like an old man at age 27. Other costs included protein and pre-workout for the gym. Buying bulk orders of Pre-workout allows this to not be that regular of a purchase and still gives me the juice I need to pump some iron after working 12 hour days.

 

Business – $72

Small monthly costs associated with running test advertising campaigns and websites. I fully expect this to ramp up to be a large monthly expense as I become more comfortable and spend more time with my system.

 

Entertainment – $30

In a month of spending on others, I did buy myself one. Overwatch is one of the more popular first person shooters out these days, and it was recommended to me by a friend who recently got back into gaming. As a way to reconnect, I bought this during its Christmas sale even though I have plenty of games already. Worth it purely for the camaraderie of playing with old friends, the game itself is pretty meh.

 

Home – $87

This will need to be organized better in the future but this category currently covers an extravagant dry cleaners session in which I cleaned every suit I own to look fresh in the new year. More importantly this is where we budget the feed for the two starving Philadelphia street cats that keep me awake at all hours of the night.

 

Invest – $831

I have two auto transfers set direct into my money market account along with 4 auto transfers into cash savings. I have been doing the cash transfers for years, I swear by Capital One 360. For vanguard drafts though, this is a relatively new system and I can’t accurately gauge how much I like it. The way I do mass manual transfers conflicts with this at times. It may be a method that just doesn’t jive well with variable pay. I set this up for months with minimal earning as it mandates saving and figuring life out after paying myself.

 

Snacks – $88

This is a category I absolutely detest. My girlfriend and I have a large appetite for non-meal goodies. I can cook till we look like hippos – we will still be craving plantain chips and candy at 11 pm. The saving grace is that most times I’m buying snacks is times where the alternate possibility would be us going out and spending ten times the amount at a bar. I have supported way too many deli’s with this category over the past few years, 2017 is the end of it.

 

Transit – $198

I did the math poorly on my transit card for the year as generally my commutes are covered out of my paycheck on a pre-tax basis for some minor savings. Instead I had to Credit Card them for the month and technically get it all for free with the Chase Sapphire Reserve ravel credit. I cover most commuting costs for myself and my girlfriend happily; at my previous job I used to drive 90 miles each way in a gas guzzling Ford Explorer. Anything less costly is a win in my book. I used Uber this month generally only to get to and from my car parked in a nearby town with better street parking. I used the Charger sparingly and did not need to fill up. It has been stored at my fathers for the foreseeable future.

 

Vice – $735

December and the holidays in general is a difficult time for partying. Living in NYC and paying for drinks for two tends to put a decent dent in this category each month. I do feel very fortunate to be in the position I currently am, so instead of giving to charity I will often take care of friends and pay when we go out for a night. The kind deed is often reciprocated but this may be something that can be pared back. Partying New Years Eve away at 100$ a ticket doesn’t help either!

 

Total Spend – $3,544

 

Payday – $10,081

Between commission, hourly, and tuition reimbursement I made roughly 10k. Reasonable end of the year as it pushed me to a career high and allowed me to clear out my Credit Card debt with  a few hours left on the clock.

 

401k

I had previously maxed this out in November and as such said goodbye to my 401k till the new year. Unfortunately my provider has since switched to two step verification. Good for security – bad for Mint and Personal Capital. I guess we are going back to the days of manual tracking once a month.

 

ESPP

15% Net Pay – $600

I have a very generous employee stock purchase program in which I can put up to 15% of my net pay. Every six months they purchase company shares at a 15% discount and I immediately sell off. While I was lucky to see an IPO on my first startup, the stock has taken a beating since and I already am over exposed by having most of my income solely from this one company. So while others have mistakenly held each time, I have sold and reaped the benefits, while relying on strong yearly performance to earn bonuses gifted in slowly vesting RSU’s and shares.

 

Assets and Liabilities Breakdown

 

A

Cash – $1,740+$2,485 Emergency Fund

401k = $57,500

IRAs= $20,700

Vanguard $195,000

Company Stock and RSU – $20,100

Rental Property – $36,400

Car – $7,000

 

Total – $341,000

 

L

Mortgage – None

Student Loans – $4,500

Car Loan – Done

Chase –  $511

Amex – $126

 

Total – $5,137

 

NW – $336,000

 

$11,000 + from previous tracked month

 

All in all a pretty good month thanks in no small part to the Trump Bull run going on in the market. Spending was pretty lavish across the board and this gives me a good comparison report to hopefully look back and grin at!

Much of my savings is thanks in large part to auto transfers prior to even receiving my paycheck. At work people cannot fathom how I manage to put so much money away and when I explain the simplicity they deem it impossible for them, even though I am proof. In 2016 I put 12% of gross into 401k and 15% of the net after that towards my ESPP. Once I received my payday I lived off as little as possible and threw every spare dime into the brokerage that I could. So while it was possibly painful to live below my means, I didn’t notice it too much.

Work Hard Play Hard

Money Music Monday #5

 

For this MMM I thought we would switch it up to an older techno hit.

At this point in my life I am currently accomplishing half of this song. This year is all about working harder to party hard later on.

Not so much partying physically, more of a mental party but you know what I mean.

 

 

Long Term Goals

Long Term Goal Planning

I love the freedom that this mindset gives. My monthly outlays are so low that I could do most any job and still easily support my standard of living. Half if not more of every dollar I earn currently goes towards savings and investments and I hope to continue to grow that savings rate further.

Currently I live in New York City with my girlfriend and two cats. We work six days a week and love most every minute of it. I am in a highly competitive tech sales field and she works double duty in books and fitness. We have kept a pretty heavy pacing of work over the past two years and do not see an end in sight, but I know change is always coming. I often think about how people at the New Years are planning the next year. In reality we already know what that is generally going to look like very often because it is extremely close! We have planned vacations or dates, life events are planned months in advance. We don’t have time to take a long view because it creeps up on you very quickly.

I would prefer to take the New Year to reassess my five year plan out to 2022, and I invite you to do the same. I have no idea the next steps along the path of my road to success however I think it is prudent to plan the end goal to have at least something to aim at. I do not think it best to pin ourselves down or be too hard on ourselves about our goals, because we could die any day and enjoying life should be a major priority. Having goals and drive however, will help you enjoy life as well – experiencing the feelings of effort, stress, and accomplishment.

It will be interesting to see how this piece looks in retrospect, and how they evolve in the future. 

 

Poverty Level FI by 34

I currently operate from a mindset of freedom, but by mid 30’s I expect to at least be at the poverty line in regards to the 3-4% rule. I do not plan to sit back and retire early, but I will feel more comfortable shifting to riskier and more interesting ventures at that time. My girlfriend’s current debt level of $100,000 in student loans makes this a bit more difficult, but we play Life on hard mode and don’t worry about complaining. I do not expect to stop at this point but I may be able to relax a little bit more mentally.

Timeline: 34 – 35 years old

 

Married with Kids

I grew up with a very small immediate family. Father is an only child and my mother’s only brother is a childfree child himself. I generally prefer not having a typical large family as my experience is that they tend to get in the way and take up time. At this stage of my life I generally cannot afford to give my time up to anyone, I barely have time for myself to be frank. However some day in the distant future I fully expect to settle down and want to teach mini versions of myself how to survive and thrive even better than I have. I love animals and for now I can only handle dealing with cats, but I do believe sane and educated people have a responsibility to propagate purely to combat the teeming masses of mouth breathers born daily.

Timeline: 29-32 years old

 

NYC Home Base

NYC is my home and it is difficult to explain the hold it has over me. I generally am more of an outdoorsy person that hates crowds and other people. Something about New York though, you can just feed off the energy that is everywhere in the city. I can’t imagine leaving for good and I expect to be here for a few more years at least before the next move. Having my family based in the metro region as well as my current real estate investments and contacts makes it likely I should plan for a base of operations in the most cost effective manner for the coming years. This will likely occur gradually as I build up my rental portfolio as I do not see value in the SFH market in the tri-state currently. Spreading my rentals across a few towns in the region will help for variety as well as diversification to some degree. Its very difficult to tell what is going to be nice with some of the systemic problems, and extremely difficult to afford the desirable places in this wealth accumulation phase. 

Timeline: 33-35 years old

 

Masters Degree Abroad

One of my major goals and reasons for aiming at financial independence is my desire to pursue education abroad. I was unfortunately a terrible student in college and was not eligible for any Study Abroad programs. I wasn’t studying at home so why would they let me study abroad eh? My extended family is all mainly still situated in Bavaria in southern Germany, and every time I visit I fall more in love. I did my undergrad degree in a business discipline because I wanted to have a secure future, it would feel the height of luxury if I were able to go back and study Enlightenment era philosophy or European Public Policy purely to satisfy my own interests. Reading and taking life easy in the farmlands of Bavaria would be blissful and also extremely cost effective. In comparison to US degrees, Europe costs pennies on the dollar. My girlfriend feels the same way so while it may be crazy its not impossible. This is a more out there goal to be sure, and requires a good degree of hustle on my part to get to a comfortable financial position by then.

Timeline: 35-38 years old

 

Bi-Coastal

I do not like to travel too much so this may be a bit of a stretch but I hope to eventually set up some measure of home base in the nicest beach city I can afford. Growing up, the Jersey shore is the main hotspot for clean and enjoyable beaches within some realm of accessibility of Manhattan, but I am not the biggest fan.  There is not much appealing on the East Coast that I’d be interested in, so it is mainly looking like a California future is ahead. I am often told I would fit in well out west with my mannerisms and mentality, so in my near future I expect to start visiting the major spots on my list to be able to accurately plan further.

Timeline: 35 – 40 years old

 

Volunteering with Animals

Another main reason why one should focus on Financial Independence is the freedom to give back to the community and country that has allowed us to attain this level of success. I have spent much of my life volunteering with Animal Welfare organizations and fully expect to throw myself deeper in as I get older. Unfortunately I need to focus on becoming financially stable now, so this will have to wait, but I expect to at least go back to regular volunteering if not a more in depth community organizing role. I have been around presidents of these organizations to the extent that I can feasibly see myself not wanting the headache of running one, but I will cross that bridge when I get there.

Timeline: 35 – 40 years old

 

Digital Marketing

I have no real belief in the myth of passive income. I read a classic book when I was younger that coined the term TANSTAAFL.

There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.

If you think there is then you are dreaming. So my goal is not to pursue the mythical sit back and do nothing money, but to aim at a more lifestyle friendly business. I have been in Marketing and Sales for almost a decade at this point and I want to develop my capacity to work remotely. It is no secret that half of the draw for digital marketing and internet related jobs is the work from anywhere on your computer setup. In the future I see us heading towards it would be embarrassing to not have a more in depth hand and presence in the Internet. There is so much opportunity online, slowly but surely I will continue my education and testing to break in.

Timeline: Present to Perpetuity

 

Real Estate

I enjoy physical labor. Limited amounts to be sure. Having a renovation project or a home to get some sweat equity in excites me. I really enjoy grabbing a beer, some music, and painting and sanding till two in the morning. I do not see myself purchasing my own primary residence any time soon but I do expect to continue to comb the market for good deals on small multi-family homes with my business partners. There is so many future synergies with anything regarding real estate, I plan to buy and hold as many strong cash flow units as I can until I can create a property management and development company to take care of the grunt work. The tax benefits are also amazing as well and I am lucky to have found similar minded partners to pursue these goals with. Full dream would be to end up with a few higher cash flowing ones possibly trading up into small apartment buildings. Ideally at least one multi family on the cliffs overlooking Manhattan – the possibility for multi-generation style housing with a view sounds like a win to me.

Timeline: Present – 45 years old

 

Conquer

It’s messed up but this is what New York does to you. It’s not FIRE. You can’t even really think like that in the atmosphere. It’s designed to actively attack such thoughts about savings and fiscal security. Every day I wade through tourists at Times and Herald square that are frivolously spending money left and right. The whole city is about making and spending money. Now while I am not one for consumerism at all, I certainly do have the desire to just be able to fully enjoy everything the city has to offer. Food, shows, apartments, it is impossible to live in this city and not have big goals. This feeling is addictive and incredibly wasteful – generally not my style. Who doesn’t want to enjoy the best things in life at least to a moderate degree? Do we not work hard enough to deserve them? I will reassess as time goes but I think that it gives life a very strong edge – being out hunting. I could see myself dying from boredom if I retired at 35. 

Timeline: Always

 

The goal is very simple, freedom, it just requires some progress from my initial starting point. I am not one of those trying to retire early and do nothing from my early thirties on. Mainly I cannot abide the thought of being 40+ years old and not fully in control of how I spend my time. Where people initially used to focus on becoming C Suite execs or middle management, I would instead prefer to focus on location independence and minor entrepreneurial efforts. I never had a penchant for people management, and in my experience I have seen pay be distorted towards revenue driving roles and not management.

I have not found true enjoyment in my job in business yet, but I have found a skillset in Sales that will take me there – there is a way to make money and enjoy work at the same time. I believe the Tech Sales industry is going to explode in the near future even further than it has today. If I continue to work on my abilities and with market maturation I  hope to be able to sell the technology that furthers mankind – whether that be micro-satellite bandwidth or the first Robot Personal Assistant. I would love to be able to participate in a product or field where I truly feel that I am helping further our species and its growth.

What about you? Have you set your goals for 2022?

Be a Jedi

Money Music Monday #4

 

 

In Honor of the rare lovely release of a new Star Wars film, I present a fantastic hustle song.

This may not exactly be in the make money vein by lyrics to be sure – it is one of those kind of songs you can go to the gym and run ten miles while listening to.

That is the kind of pump up and dedication needed in life.

 

I love Star Wars mainly for its homage to The Heroes Journey from Joseph Campbell.

If you haven’t read of the connection – it may help make Star Wars less childish and more philosophical to you.

The below link explores much of the impact Campbell had on Lucas’ work with Documentary evidence.

Look Back on 2016, 2016 Review

2016 Year in Review

With 2016 coming to a close I wanted to start my formal review process. I always love reading about how everyone else looks back at their year and plans the next so I figured one has to start somewhere.I did not have this writing space last year, but I do have some checklists and to do lists from January and February of this year. I use Evernote for all of my checklists monthly, half the stuff tends to get done and half the stuff tends to get perpetually pushed off.

This allows me at least some sense of satisfaction by continually checking things off, but I don’t know that it is the system which encourages actual productivity the most. The To-do lists have little rhyme or reason and not much organization. I’m starting to get better but perhaps that will go on my goal list for next year! Without further ado…

2016 Goals

Renovate and Fully Rent Out Property 1

Achieved

This was completed in Q1 of 2016. Out of the three units in the property, two of them have now had moderate full renovations in the past year and a half. The third tenant hasn’t cycled out yet and is quite happy for now. This property is in a B designated neighborhood, so costly upgrades and finish work would do little to affect monthly rental pricing and would likely be mistreated. All of this work was done by myself and my partners, only sub-contracting out electrical and plumbing as I prefer a professional for those. Any standard contracting work we generally can accomplish in house to get some sweat equity. It has been some months since I have heard anything from these tenants, it was a fortunate year in that regard. This property had some appreciation this year to the tune of 7% on Zillow estimations. Considering that everything comparable on the market right now is up 20-30%, I will use Zillow in a light manner.

Purchase Property 2

Failed

This is somewhat out of my control. Starting in Q2 of 2016, the Hudson County market exploded and frankly priced us smaller fish out of the pond. People are purchasing crack houses for half a million that need full gut renovations in very sketchy neighborhoods. For my long term plan I generally go by the rule of “don’t buy something if you would not live there.” It is also difficult managing a partnership to some extent and this failure I attribute to that disjointedness.

Move Apartments

Complete

Beginning of this year I moved into a new apartment with my girlfriend in order to cut down on costs and travel time between our apartments. It has worked out swimmingly so far with very little difficulties of living together. It helps that we both work a lot and have similar hobbies and friends of course. This move was a little different than most as it was during the holidays and the apartment was only a few blocks away. The holidays made it so that few people were inclined to help me or even in the country to do so! Instead, I decided to try to do a slow move in which I put my life on my back and piece by piece marched it half a mile north and up to the 5th floor walk up. This taught me one great way to purge, namely being, “I do not want to carry that for a half hour.” This move was accomplished and the only major loss was an amazing couch that was just not a one man job, he got left on the side of the road for the next guy to enjoy.

Back in the Gym

Achieved

This was a goal mainly due to a current fear I had. I have been a regular gym goer for some years now but in September 2015 I had busted my wrist in a Muay Thai class and never got it checked by a doc. I could not bear any weight and I stupidly thought it would just heal so I kept it lightly ace wrapped for months. I was concerned at the time that I would be so damaged that I wouldn’t be able to get back. I was relatively fixed by late January and I have managed to stay consistent. I am very laid back about the gym so in the new year I would like to push myself to be a little more focused on numbers and improvement.

Write 2 Articles a Week

Failure

This is a fail because this was supposed to occur in January. I have been posting two to three times a week, but I only managed to get things started in December. Too early to tell if I can keep up the pace but so far I am enjoying myself and I have found time to fit this into my schedule somewhat painlessly. It took me months to get out of my head, analysis paralysis is a majority real thing. Also it does not help that I truly did start a writing project in January with a partner. I wrote a nice backlog of stuff for easy release, but relying on someone else allows it so that no one is stepping on the gas at all.

Get a Calendar/Google calendar

Achieved

I did start using Google calendar and I even synched it up with my friends and family. I just do not ever use it. It is nice to have a planner but the life I am currently leading does not have that sort of planning required. I know exactly where I need to be and when and generally I always leave to be at an appointment hours early anyway. Calendars either may not fit my current lifestyle, or I may just not have found the right one for me. Maybe when this blog blows up I will need something to track all the public appearances I will be making, but for now it seems that it’s not needed!

Acquire Furniture

Achieved

With my move into the new apartment came my disgust at the amount of scrap belongings and furniture that needed to be tossed out. Things I had spent good money on that was either out of style or splintered from use after a very short time. Seeing this frivolous waste of money I became obsessed with the idea of BifL or “Buy it for Life.” Instead of getting fashionable items that change as frequently as the seasons, I wanted each item to be of high quality and durability, so that I could buy it once and never think about again. Industrial furniture is very much in line with this mentality. The rough and weathered look of most pieces is relatively timeless. My style does tend to lean towards the steel piping and rough cut oak look anyway, and if these items ever get damaged all it takes is a quick sanding or coat of varnish to brighten them back up. Industrial furniture also has the benefit of often having highly visible and functional assembly processes. Instead of worrying about Ikea slotting fiberboard together, there is giant visible bolts holding half my stuff together. Likely a bit ugly and utilitarian for most, but aesthetics just is not really in my top 5 concerns. Buy it for Life for sure from now on!

Battlestation Home

Achieved

Every futuristic nerd needs a battlestation. I’m not talking about a Death Star or some crazy gun setup though those are great too. A battlestation is a nerds home, it’s where they hang their heart and happiness in a lot of ways. Having a souped up computer is only part of the factor in discussion, it’s more of having a place of pure ease and comfort that you are happy spending large swathes of time at. Each battlestation is individualized based on financial capacity and hobbies. For years I had dreamed of having a professional gamer setup of my own. The release of the Oculus and VR in general gave me an excuse to buy myself a present of the likes that I had dreamed about for years. Buying a full virtual reality setup was a bit aggressive at about $2,300, but I kept myself tame with the peripherals. This was rationalized mainly as a work purchase in that I game only very lightly these days and I want to be as comfortable as possible working from home. The key factors were a standing desk with studio chair and a cheap dual monitor setup. You can buy monitors for $70 these days. No reason not to have two.

No Lunch Spend

Failed

This was and will continue to be an important part of me bringing down my monthly spend. Just from a rough calculation it seems like 15-20% of my monthly spend is on eating out. This is to be expected eating and living in New York City. However I would like to make this more about discipline and directed spending. I will gladly spend $300 on a beautiful dining experience, there really is nothing like it.  However I am piddling away cash on the same meh lunch every few days or the same old okay sushi takeout night. I thankfully have meals highly subsidized by my work and I just need to be mindful to utilize it more.

Set Up Online Presence.

Half Achieved

I started and stopped and rallied and delayed on a million different ideas this year. I was relying on other people. I kept hoping that one of my friends or colleagues would take initiative for me and drag me along. That’s just not how it works. I learned it when I started in sales years ago, but it just needs to be refreshed daily. You eat what you kill. No one will do it for you.  So instead I moved away and started at least trying on my own. I launched my first e commerce store earlier this year just to see what would happen. I ran some ads using the minor nice new skills I had gleaned in General Assembly and proceeded to sell zero. I don’t really care though because it was fully operational, it got traffic, and I launched it basically on my birthday while dying of food poisoning. So I call this a half win. I’m not where I want to be but I am light years ahead of even last year.

2016 on the whole was really great. I have very few bad things to say about it or how I feel about my own performance throughout it. It is always important to look back and measure how you feel about your actions. Many of these goals were not easily measurable or given a time frame. How was your 2016? Do you give yourself an A or an F?

2017 is going to be fantastic. I have started tracking my expenses and really enjoying it so I hope to have a very organized year! I never was into Excel but I am learning how spreadsheets on Google Drive can change your life. With more organization, more projects, and more knowledge, I hope I can top 2016 and I hope you can too!

2017 Goals

2017 Goals and Looking into the Future!

Now that the year is coming to a close it is always nice to be able to formulate some semblance of a plan of attack for the next calendar year. Rarely do things work out in such a fashion but having a basis is useful as it will allow you a point to pivot from while always keeping in mind your core goals.  I will try to follow up the generalities with some measure of a S.M.A.R.T goals to more easily gauge success.

 

New Rental – Have One New Rental Unit by December 31 2017

2016 was a failure for me in this category. My partners and I acquired our first multi family in the Hudson County area in Q2 2015, and we were thinking to do the same in 2016. We were a little more delayed this year and then the market decided to go through the roof from Q2 2016 on, with the properties in our realm being 20-30% more costly on a per unit basis. This would place the required rents at nearer to NYC proper levels than they will currently support. So the property market should see some corrections soon. I think it likely that early next year everyone will still be struggling to fill vacancies that will cover the mortgage and more of a buyer’s market will come to the fore. If not, I am always reminding myself not to force any of the numbers. Find a better asset class for the right time.

Expand Digital Media /  Make 1,000$ online by December 31 2017

This was a repeat goal from last year and likely will continue to be one. I attended university and took classes on marketing that taught me nothing about the internet. It took me years to realize that Digital Marketing was really the field that I had always been looking for. This past year I took my first steps down this road and got some formal education through my companies Federal Education Reimbursement Program. Not only did I get free education that allowed me to put my head on straight in regards to this entire field, it also looks like I’m an engaged employee utilizing our benefits programs! I expect to double up the focus on all my online based efforts in the new year. The more I spend time with it all the more like second nature it becomes. Two years ago I couldn’t remotely imagine making my own web page. Now I can put one up in five minutes. Not that that matters in and of itself, but progress is progress!

Explore New Education Opportunities / Get One New Certification by December 31 2017

Continuing education is always a huge return in my mind. It not only allows you to learn something new – it helps you in a myriad of other ways. For someone like me it allows a socializing and networking window when I am normally not all that good at networking. Being in crowds bothers me, so having a reason to be there always helps. I have a few thoughts in mind, namely either starting Real Estate licensing to some form or another or to expand my Digital Marketing skillset with the adwords certifications. I still need to pin down which is more pertinent, likely the Google ones. We shall see.

Assess Q4 Spending / Spend 20% less by December 31 2017

This is the first quarter that I have ever had the stomach to sit down and manually track my transactions. For years my cousin has been trying to get me into YNAB in order to make financial monthly planning a habit. I tried it and hated it. Too much of it reminded me of balance sheet problems from Accounting 101 which I failed hilariously.  Instead I forced myself to make a life spreadsheet on Google Docs and to update it daily with my transactions. I have been doing this for a few months and it sure is disgusting. I hate putting line items down, manually doing it truly shows you how frivolously we spend money. I have not actually run the numbers on my spending categories, and my color blindness does not make charts Essendon the eyes. At the end of the year I will run monthly numbers so that I can be in good order for Jan 1 2017, hopefully I will be able to post some sort of rough budget for now and going for shortly.

Vacation Plans / Visit 3 new Countries by December 31 2017

The last vacation I went on was a two week trip to Europe this past summer visiting family. I am not the biggest fan of traveling due to my distaste for leaving my cats for an extended period of time. I would prefer to get to the point where I would be able to live in a few different cities for an extended stay rather than quick bursts of tourism. Part of my desire for financial independence comes from the desire to be able to slow travel throughout Europe in the somewhat near future. So while I don’t currently have much planned out for 2017 I do expect some 3 day weekend trips around the state’s and maybe an island hop to the Caribbean at some point. 

Purge / Have 25% less stuff by December 31 2017

If there is one thing that makes almost every single one of my to do lists no matter the month or year, it is the purge. I like to live in a state of perpetual purge because no matter what I do, I continue to acquire material goods that are unnecessary and wasteful. Having excess things in my life almost physically hurts me. It certainly mentally hurts as I feel encumbered by detritus from my past, and when you are living in NYC in a 280 square foot apartment, that’s a big no go. So mainly it is the closet that gets continuously purged as family members buy me clothing as gifts. This upcoming year though I expect to purge for the first time ever, the infamous sock drawer. Millions of mismatches eating my precious time, I plan to wipe it clear and get a bunch of extremely visible and match-able socks.

Small victories!

New Phone and Carrier by December 31 2017

I don’t want to but it’s about that time. I still use my 5 year old IPhone 4s and it works like a charm. I am very much of the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mentality and my phone is still trucking along without even the slightest signs of wear. I think there is something to be said for the smaller screen being much more resistant to cracking but I would like to upgrade eventually. My current plan with Verizon is running me anywhere from 75$-95$ a month, and I am pretty limited in my usage. It is likely my phone is so old that the WiFi range has degraded some, by updating I will likely have lower data usage unless I find some more killer uses that I don’t currently have access to. Updating to a larger model could make me more likely to use my phone more instead of a tablet for daily on the go writing sessions, but I am also concerned that I will break anything as soon as I get it just due to karma! The 4s randomly drops from 40% battery to 0% whenever it can find the most inopportune time to do so, so while this is not a huge priority I expect to test out one of the newer low cost carriers like Cricket or Metro PCS in the near future.

Physical / Be able to hit Body Multiple Goals by December 31 2017

I have for years been pretty consistent with my physical fitness regimen, sticking to 3 days a week at minimum of heavy lifting and the odd cardio day. As I head towards my 30’s I would like to ramp up my health focus bit by bit in easy manageable chunks.

For a bit more than a year I enjoyed Muay Thai classes as a group experience and learned a lot about self defense and my physical limits. I chose Muay Thai for its upright style of fighting and lack of grappling, as I do not want to spend hours sweating on another male. Also helped that it was two blocks away! I was injured during one class and generally do not like being on someone’s else’s time frame, so this year I am looking for a viable solo alternative.

Trading Account / Be up 10% by December 31 2017

My go to investment has always been VTSAX, what I call the Admiral. I was always pretty bad at math growing up, so I appreciate the ease and automatic diversification that comes with just routines it into an index fund for relatively safe keeping. The Admiral is always trying his best to steer downwards and upwards, fractional portions of hundreds of businesses all vying for profitability. I have taken some deviations in the past when I was feeling particularly flush with cash such as buying penny stocks with friends or TSLA because I thought I had at least some sort of moral obligation to do so. I learned my lesson and have mainly stuck to my old Admiral instead.

So in 2017 of course I want to deviate again. I plan to take a reasonable amount of my uninterested cash and plug it into a Robin Hood account and attempt some minor swing trading. I don’t expect to gain nor lose too much as I’m risk averse at heart, but I think it will be a useful learning tool for my financial future. It will force me to delve into the analytics and lingo of the industry in a way that I have not before, and education is always a minimum 100% return on investment in my mind.

Clear Student Loan by December 31 2017

I am at the end of a decent student loan journey. After graduating college I was surprised by unexpected debt due to my parents timely divorce. Prior to that occurrence I had been debt free and planning to travel the world and volunteer. Instead I buckled down and worked. At the end of 2016 I have roughly $4,000 remaining on them, and while I have enough cash on hand to blow them away, my automated double-size payment has made this somewhat painless for the last few years, so I will give him the glory and be happily surprised midway through next year. Another account that I will get to cut from my life, after this experience I do not expect to put myself into debt for education ever again.

First Roth Backdoor / Complete by Tax Day

How many times do you think you read about Mega Backdoor Roth’s this year? If you run in the same circles as me the answer is “way too much.”  I am not as crazy about tax advantaged accounts as many others seem to be, and I do not want to overweight myself and lock too much of my money away. Sure you can get it back with some finagling but I want my money accessible. I plan to do this for two reasons. One mainly as a learning experience just to see how it all works out and the second being a love of simplicity. Executing the back door would leave me with one less account as I will have to roll my traditional IRA into my existing Roth for some tax basis stuff. I would love to have less accounts purely for my purge mentality!

More VR Time

This is more of a silly goal but I want to spend more time immersed in virtual reality. I was one of the psychos that bought an Oculus Ready PC from their partnership with Best Buy for a lovely $2,500. In hindsight, not one of my better decisions for FIRE purposes, but with a savings rate of 50%+ I think I need to live it up a bit at times. I love being in the virtual worlds, but a number of factors come into play to the point that I haven’t put on the headset in months. I love showing everyone virtual reality for their first time, it truly is enjoyable to change people’s perceptions and blow their minds. However I work so much, and combined with the fact that I mainly just want to take my contacts out at the end of the day, wearing VR goggles and straining my corneas further has proven to be a bad move. I bought the rig telling myself I wanted to be an early adopter to suss out business possibilities, and I need to continue viewing it in that light.

Finish Home

I live in a poor person’s penthouse – a fifth floor walk up in an old building in a quiet neighborhood. The rent is exceptionally low for the location, my girlfriend and I split a one bedroom apartment for 1,000$ a month. This has been a godsend allowing us to drastically amp up our savings as well as our debt pay down. My concern is that I never want to put much money into a rental as it is not mine, and I never trust timeframe estimates as it is a month to month lease so things can change at any time. However we do hope to stay for at least another year or too, unless a housing market correction drastically alters pricing in the area for purchasing. I do not need the stress of a mortgage over my head right now, so I think it is best to just do some small improvements that can dramatically increase quality of life while we are there. Shelves, organizing, hangers, etc. I will be visiting Lifehacker.com a lot to plan out small accessible DIY projects.

 

It is always useful to plan ahead so that you give yourself something to aim at.This past year was a huge success in my book, and I want 2017 to be even better. I could put down Net Worth goals, but I would like to expand upon those in a post sometime soon. I try not to be too hard on myself in that realm, as savings is generally all I am thinking about on the broader scale. I just started tracking my Net Worth and collated all my accounts, so I should be able to start getting more accurate growth and return numbers this upcoming year.

 

Accounts of my current Financial Future

Accounts of my Current Financial Future

Current Accounts and Common Usage  for a Baseline

I thought it would be useful for posterity to list out my current accounts so I can compare usage and fluctuations yearly.

Also I feel like this is a decent background view into the organization of my mental state when reviewing my financials. I stand at my desk all day so I end up reviewing these a lot more often than I should.

 

Checking

Regular checking account at a National Bank which takes automatic deposits of my paychecks and has very few day to day transactions. Most daily life occurs on my credit cards, which get paid off on the 15th of every month in full. Other transactions on this account will be automated transfers to various online savings accounts and the brokerage account as well. I used to have a savings account at the same bank but found little use when they service charged me below zero because I was not using the account. I found that a savings account that was so simple to transfer back and forth to checking was completely meaningless to me. I needed some sort of Airgap between my accounts to discourage transferring cash needlessly and keep things in order. I generally have little more than $2,000-$3,000 in this account at any time, regular transferring out any round thousand figure that is in there.

 

Online Savings

I have 4 online accounts with ING Direct and I have loved them. Having a savings account that is ever so slightly more removed from getting it in cash makes a difference. I used to transfer money between my checking and saving at my main bank all the time, the money was one mess. Switching to an online savings bank, I rarely ever touch the money. I would rather figure out how to survive without or just plan more effectively than deal with the minor hassle of moving this money around in a swift manner. You can open numerous accounts for no cost an Nickname each of them for different savings plans. Then you set up automatic transfers and you try to lose the login info. The longer you forget about these the better. I have set up one for Emergency Fund, Business Fund, Investment Fund, and a Muscle Car Fund.

To be Honest -These names have become pretty pointless.The Business Fund and Investment Fund end up being a slosh account before sending the money to Vanguard and I put all business expenses on one credit card. The Muscle Car fund is slowly growing, but I already own one car and barely drive it – so this is a nice distant dream for a likely inexpensive older project car. In the Emergency Account I keep anywhere from two to five thousand liquid just in case. I have more available in my Vanguard as a cash position ready for market dips that is equally accessible if anything should occur. I am slightly unconcerned as of now with having a large E-Fund as I am young, healthy, employed, in a large city, and employable. Having a proven track record in a Sales job generally speaks for itself. I haven’t done the exact math on how many months the E fund would be – that would be more comforting. I am positive enough that if I were to lose my primary source of income, I would have enough runway to figure it out for a few months before needing to take a bottom level sales job to survive. I also have a large amount of available credit and I have a family to rely on nearby. 

 

Digit

Digit is a fun tool that fits my style of saving and investing. It is an account that you sign up for that will randomly take small withdrawals of varying sizes from your checking and deposit it into their own savings account. It is a free service and over time your account can get to a healthy size that they offer small bonuses for. The service is fully controllable by text message and one of my favorite aspects is that it messages you your available bank balance daily. My cousin hates it because he follows a more structured process utilizing YNAB and exact numbers. I admire his organization but I did not enjoy that software – reminded me of failing Accounting in college. This always comes in handy to round out numbers when investing or dealing with expenses. 

 

Venmo

I never see people talk about this tool for some reason and it blows my mind. This truly is the financial tool for the millennial generation. Begone cash, I either use a credit card or immediately reimburse through Venmo. This is an online service that just sends your money through your phone and if you attach it to your debit account it is entirely free. It has a minor social aspect in that you have to attach a description and everyone can see what you call the transaction and can like it. There are numerous extensions to this app that turbo charge it.

If you ever end up going on a group trip I recommend downloading Splitwise. It is an extension on Venmo that allows you to create a group, plug in how much each person spent and who took part in each expense, and it will automatically explains the most efficient payment split of who owes what to whom and executes it. I have used this on numerous bachelor parties and everything is more relaxed because no one feels like they are getting screwed over in regards to money.

 

Taxable Vanguard

All of my after tax savings ends up here after routing various ways. I have currently half of my holdings in VTSAX and this is where I will generally send most of my money in order to have it working for me. The other half is Blue Chip Veterans I acquired prior to hitting some bad runs in stock picking and realizing I knew nothing.  I have been lucky to have some money to catch the tail end of this bull market and I do not expect that to continue so much longer. I tried to time the market once and missed lightly, but I learned my lesson and will just have to be ready for other opportunities when that occurs. I tend to avoid ever selling out of this position, and if I need to liquidate something I will do so out of the laggards in my Blue Chip / Tech Kings portfolio. I rarely sell off, and just tend to wait till I accumulate the cash to do whatever I was looking to do. I try to keep a pretty sizable portion of cash on hand as I expect a dip somewhat soon and would like to purchase things at a discount. I do not currently need access to much cash, but if the next investment property eventually shows up I need to be ready. I have recently set up a small automatic transfer in order to transition more to automating, but due to the extreme variations in my pay I do most of the large transfers into the account manually.

 

IRA

I have both a Roth as well as traditional IRA from a 401k Rollover I never finished. The Roth is small as I only qualified for a few years and I was not focused on maxing it out. I expect to be dealing with these two shortly both for simplification purposes as well as testing out the Backdoor Roth situation. I will be able to beef up the Roth, but I believe that I need to finish the Rollover as the traditional needs to be “converted” and closed I think. Research for this upcoming Tax Day necessary.

 

401k

Decent sized but I have only known to max it for the past few years. Now that I do know though it is a highlight of my accounts. I luckily have access to a pretty broad amount of Vanguard options and they give a decent match. I love setting a sizable % of the paycheck to max this out quickly, as with a sales job it will take dramatic jumps each commission day. Having the money taken out before it’s even left the company’s hands is great and this account is going to be a core of my retirement planning, likely due to its inaccessibility with such good benefits.

 

Stock Plan

Hosted by one of the largest Multinational banks, my company has a portal to keep track of the various shares, RSU’s and ESP’s you have going on. This links directly into Mint which is great to see your stock value fluctuate. It is too easy to think about this as real money and limit your potential mobility. Unless it is a dramatic sum of money it is better to think about it not at all. The handcuffs that come with invisible contract shares is real and it can cause you to make poor decisions. Keep in mind how much is vested but generally this is more icing on the cake than anything reliable.

 

Acorns

Acorns is another business similar to Digit, except they round up your purchases and invest the change for you. You can make additional manual payments to juice this account, but Im just as happy to watch this slowly build over time. They allow you to choose your risk tolerance and they invest your change for 1$ a month service fee. This won’t change your world but every little extra way we can save painlessly is great.

 

Mortgage

I and my business partners currently have one Multi Family investment property in Hudson County along the Hudson River. Purchased in 2015, the property has been a great investment and a nice start into the Real Estate world. In a very short time frame we have dealt with a wide array of many of the time honored landlord experiences, but with multiple partners in general it has been pretty painless. This account purely is setup to autopay. We have a pre-approval from the same company ready for the next solid numbers to show up, so far we have had little luck looking in the past few months.

 

Student Loan

This is nearing the end of its life span. Only a few thousand remaining at a low interest rate. I have had these at double the monthly since graduating college. This never was too much of a concern as I made a point to sacrifice slightly to keep my costs down. Once this is paid off I plan to redirect this autopay directly into the taxable brokerage. This experience has put me off major debt on behalf of education.

 

Credit Cards

I currently have 2 main credit cards and all daily expenses flow through them. I generally carry little to no cash in a partial attempt at minimalism and partially for record keeping.

Chase Sapphire Reserve is my daily use and it has allowed me to build up a decent backlog of points that is sure to be used on upcoming trips.

The American Express Starwood is what I am currently using to keep track of any business expenses.

People quibble about yearly fees – if you pay the card in full every month – you win no matter what. These companies provide so many benefits to route your transactions through them it is amazing. I have these on manual pay, because i do not leave much cash lying in my account and I too like to live dangerously.

 

Asset Account

Vehicle / Alternative Investments – Metals / Watches

I place a note of limited liquidity and fluctuating value on these items as I tend to not have nice things. A 2000’s Dodge Charger sits unused 95% of the time and wristwatches generally feel too upscale for my lifestyle. I do, at times, day dream of buying a nice reward watch at my first Million – we shall see if I find value in it at that time. The one slowly growing asset in this account is the pile of physical silver I have. I used to have difficulty keeping cash and also had a bit of a conspiracy theory/Zero Hedge vibe going on – so I started purchasing Silver here and there and storing it as needed. I really enjoy this because of its history as hard currency. I tend to think about buying more really as purely an exchange of currency rather than an investment – I pretend that I can easily get spot in return for it. I know I cannot, but I like the idea of an illiquid Scrooge McDuck pool of bullion, call me old fashioned.


Future Accounts

HSA

I was excited to learn that my work would finally be offering this Account for me in the upcoming year. More tax free money is always a good thing. I am mildly concerned that my health expenses will randomly be higher, but there is always a measure of risk. I expect to keep full records and scan them into my G Drive and do not plan to reimburse until I fully figure out the numbers behind it all. I hear the HSA options generally suck investment wise with high expense ratios and weak choices – I will cross that bridge when I get there. I would feel extremely pleased if in a few years I had a healthy loaded HSA ready for any emergency.


Robinhood Account

I want a separate trading account to easily track my own progress with stock picking. I have tried in the past but never with the effort and current level of knowledge I have. I expect this to be a losing proposition, but an important learning one nonetheless. I will be pursuing this with a reasonable amount and trading guidelines for myself in the 1st or 2nd quarter of 2017 and will document progress accordingly.

 

Money Music Monday, Remix, 3LAU, Lil Dicky, Save the Money

Money Music Monday #2

 

 

Generally people have heard of this original song, but 3LAU crushes the remix to make Dicky’s flow way smoother than it ever was.

I tend to be on the Earn More vs Save More mentality – Earning more is so much more powerful for your mentality.

The Saga of Echo (Briefly)

I generally dislike talking about myself much the less writing about it, but I always find the backstory of any author useful in coloring the story. Below is a short chronicle of experience and background. Hopefully this will be the last such needed.

I grew up in of New York City’s. Born to an immigrant father and a Brooklyn Italian Princess, it was a standard North-Eastern helicopter parent childhood. My mother was locked in the “Keeping up with the Joneses’” lifestyle, but we had a comfortable lifestyle and they afforded me all the books I could possibly read. I credit my love of books to much of my happiness and knowledge in life.

I attended an expensive Northeastern private university with no rational consideration other than it being one of the top business undergrads in general. Failed my way through most math related courses unfortunately, and proceeded to graduate with a degree in Marketing. . As I exited college Post-Great Recession; I had zero job, roughly 40$ to my name, and the added benefit of a perfectly timed parental divorce – and thus unexpected student loan debt.

Unemployment sucks. It somewhat seems cool, and sometimes it may well be. Some of you may have varying experiences, from good ranging to horrible. For me – being unemployed post college when everyone had somewhere to be all day and you are flailing and falling behind in the game of life…sucked. The psychology of that state in life is crushing and the 3 months I was unemployed is up there with the negative associations with “work” that has left its mark on my psyche. I can’t stand the thought of such a feeling again and this likely shapes my opinions making me more risk averse than I should be.

I eventually ended up getting my first job through a Facebook posting. Terrible. 35,000$ flat a year – it was my first foray into Sales but  it was a no name company with no future for me. The dying industry the company was in had me applying to jobs constantly and I quickly made my exit thanks to a college friend in a satellite office at one of the Big Banks. When they say college is worth it for the networking – it absolutely is. This is one of the people I purely drank with and never showed any real skill or value to any company, he was just looking to get a referral bonus out of me. This connection likely was worth the cost of going to school alone, as having a reputable name on your resume truly is powerful in terms of people taking you seriously for no reason. I have had many job interviews purely based on that company name, and up until I moved into my current job I literally and figuratively had nothing of value to offer a business.  

I managed to struggle through a few years of back and mid office positions in a few offices in the Metro area. Though it did suck as i was being paid 47,000$ in basically the highest cost of living location – to be honest I was lucky to have gotten in at all. I lived at home with my father, paid down loans, bought a cool used car cash, started mild savings and did whatever wasteful stuff kids do. Getting your feet under you post-college and establishing some financial base  is extremely helpful. Also,  being with family is worth a million times more than wasting money immediately moving out for “independence” sake. The jobs were pretty menial, data monkey stuff. One of the key things I got practice at was talking on the phone for extremely long periods of time. I would say I can’t currently recognize much of my personal growth during this period, maybe it will be more apparent later.

Having survived numerous rounds of layoffs at Big Bank I figured I would quit while I was ahead. I took what I saw as a large risk at the time and I went to work in sales at a small Technology Startup. A colleague of mine had gone there half a year prior and explained the wonder that is startup land. I finally bit the bullet and it is difficult to imagine going back. Switching from a salary to a commission based compensation plan is something that I advise everyone to do at some point in their lives. Being paid for the value you provide is empowering and the freedom and personal responsibility is fantastic. You can feel the value you provide at a small organization, and it is so inspiring to be around the crowds those HR teams carefully craft. Monthly quotas with a short sales cycle product, I ramped up quickly and saved most of my large commission checks. I had moved out at this point – finding a bedroom for 700$ in a nice nearby neighborhood. The easiest way to ramp up quickly is to just work more than anyone else. I had broken up with a girlfriend and just sat in the office six days a week eating free PB and J’s and Microwaved Grill Cheeses. I broke six figures somehow at 25 and it is a constant fight to stay at the top.

In the interests of brevity, that about gives you more background than needed. I have continued to focus on being within the top 5 sales agents at all times, while avoiding most other responsibilities and enjoying as much time outside of work as possible. Living in NYC it is difficult to maintain constant financial vigilance, but I do my best to maintain a 50% or more savings rate. Through simple seemingly easy decisions about saving I have gone from roughly 30,000$ in debt to roughly ten times that in various investments and no debt over a period of 7 years. Now though as I age, I am more concerned with diversifying my income and have a number of different plans in varying degree of development which I expect to document here. I have attained a reasonable amount of savings with little financial knowledge or math capacity, and I want to help you do the same!